Popeye Gets Eye-popping 3D Make-over

King Features Syndicate and computer animation house Mainframe have begun production on a new Popeye 3D computer animated TV and home video special. The show will debut in prime time during the holiday season (between Nov. 24 and Dec. 21, 2004) on Fox before hitting video shelves.

“We’ve assembled a terrific group of partners to produce, broadcast and distribute this special as part of our multifaceted 75th anniversary celebration for Popeye the Sailor Man in 2004. This will further solidify Popeye’s worldwide popularity well into the 21st century,” says T.R. “Rocky” Shepard III, president of King Features Syndicate. “We’ve hired Mainframe Entertainment, one of the world’s leading producers of 3D computer animation, to give Popeye a whole new dimensional look

Artisan Home Entertainment, through its Family Home Entertainment (FHE) label, will be releasing an hour-long version of the Popeye special featuring never-before-seen footage as well as classic material on DVD and VHS during the fourth quarter of 2004. FHE represents such pre-eminent children’s and family franchises as Barbie, Clifford The Big Red Dog, Care Bears, Rescue Heroes, Hot Wheels and Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie.

FHE president Glenn Ross comments, “Popeye continues to represent one of the most likeable animated characters of all time. The character’s popularity, combined with the highly sophisticated animation that will bring him to life in this all-new program, will help the special have widespread appeal to both classic and new Popeye fans.”

Best known as the pioneer of computer animated television for the groundbreaking Reboot and for its award-winning Barbie as Rapunzel direct-to-video feature, Mainframe also created the logo, branding and original animation segments for this year’s MTV Movie Awards, and is currently producing the animated Spider-Man series for Sony Pictures Television. In addition to the company’s role as the animation producer, it has secured distribution rights in a few key international territories. Those deals include television rights in Canada and television and home video rights in the United Kingdom and Australia.

Packaged by Creative Artists Agency (CAA), the all new Popeye CG animated special was co-written by actor/comedian Paul Reiser (Mad About You) and Jim Hardison. Reiser is a life-long Popeye fan, and along with Rick Karo and Frank Caruso, is serving as one of the exec. producers on the project.

Represented by King Features Syndicate, Popeye made his first public appearance on January 17, 1929 in Elzie Segar’s comic strip Thimble Theatre. He jumped to the silver screen in Popeye the Sailor, a 1933 Betty Boop cartoon from Fleischer Studios. The Sailor Man went onto star in nearly 600 Popeye cartoons, produced through the years by the Fleischer Studios, Famous Studios and Hanna Barbera, among others. In 1980, Popeye returned to the big screen in the live-action Popeye movie starring Robin Williams and Shelly Duvall. In 1993, Ted Turner’s Cartoon Network celebrated the 60th anniversary of the muscled mariner’s film debut with Popumentary, a series of six prime-time specials.